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Meaning and understanding

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-U022-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 17, 2024, from

Article Summary

The existence of a close connection between the notions of meaning and understanding can hardly be denied. I may be said to understand you, on a given occasion of utterance, when I know what you then meant - or, at least, when I know the meaning of the words that you then uttered. An important and influential school of thought within the philosophy of language goes much further than these platitudes, however. Its members adhere to the view that questions about meaning are essentially questions about understanding: ‘a model of meaning is a model of understanding’. Their approach contrasts with that of those who expect an account of meaning to elucidate the nature of understanding only indirectly - perhaps by explaining meaning in terms of truth, inference, synonymy or self-expression, and only then explaining understanding as the correct recovery of meaning.

Citing this article:
Rumfitt, Ian. Meaning and understanding, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-U022-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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